Richard Migliore aboard Friends Lake.
Saturday afternoon, "The Mig" will be aboard Paraneck Stable's Redskin Warrior in the 52nd running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham, New York's first big test for three-year-olds on the Visa Triple Crown trail. The colt and Migliore will face a stiff test in the one-turn, one-mile Gotham, as Redskin Warrior battles with the toughest group he has ever faced.
The Gotham, which can be seen live on ESPN 2 during its one-hour telecast beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST, will be race seven on a 10-race, which also features the Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. Free past performances are available from Daily Racing Form.
For Migliore, 2004 represents the veteran's best chance to win a three-year-old classic in years. In addition to Friends Lake and Redskin Warrior, Migliore also rides the undefeated Song of the Sword for Paraneck Stable. "Horses are very delicate animals, so it's good to have a lot of bench strength," said Migliore, who may have a tough choice ahead of him. "We've got six weeks (until the May 1st Kentucky Derby) for everything to sort itself out."
Redskin Warrior winning the Best Turn Stakes at Aqueduct.
Also trying a route for the first time are Deputy Storm and Saratoga County, the second and third-place finishers from the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream February 14th. James Spence's Deputy Storm is the speed of the speeds in the Gotham. He set blazing fractions of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5 in the Hutcheson, his first race since finishing second in the August 9th Sapling. The son of Forestry was passed by Limehouse in the stretch, but still ran a game effort to hold second. "He's super fast," Deputy Storm's trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Anyone that tries to run with early will be running way too fast." Jorge Chavez will be aboard Deputy Storm for the first time in the Gotham. "I hope Chavez can ration out his speed," said Pletcher, who is not concerned about the colt regressing in his second start off a layoff. "I'd love to see him slow it down a bit, but it might be hard for him to go a half in :45. The Gotham will be a testing ground for this colt. He ran well off the bench going seven-eighths, so we need to find out if he can handle a little extra distance."
Evelyn Pollard's Saratoga County had a rough trip in the Hutcheson. After finishing second to Wynn Dot Comm in his seasonal debut, the Spectacular Bid, Saratoga County had trouble at the start and found himself 10 lengths behind Deputy Storm in the Hutcheson, effectively giving him little chance to win. Saratoga County did not give up after the break, rallying to be third and 1¾ lengths behind Deputy Storm at the finish. "He didn't have clean trips in either race in Florida," said trainer George Weaver, a former assistant to Pletcher. "He's been facing some tough horses down there. The Gotham is the next step he's got to take." Both horses' stock rose following the Tampa Bay Derby when Limehouse shipped across the Sunshine State to win Tampa's biggest race.
Riding a two-race win streak into the Gotham is Willmott Stables' Eddington, who has been impressive in victory going long since the addition of blinkers. While many others in the Gotham have yet to try a route, Eddington is the only one in the group with more than one win past seven furlongs. "I don't think the blinkers have helped his early speed," trainer Mark Hennig said. "They have helped him focus more. In both his last races, he hasn't hit his best stride until the sixteenth-pole." Being in full flight at the sixteenth-pole may prove a big edge for Eddington in the Gotham especially considering a likely fast pace and the presence of horses inexperienced in routes.
Pomeroy (outside) in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile.
Pomeroy, owned by Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, will be making his first start since recovering from surgery to remove an ankle chip. Last year, Pomeroy won his first two races on wet tracks then ran second behind Cuvee in the Saratoga Special. Pomeroy does have route experience, which came in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, a race he won, but was disqualified to third for interference at the top of the stretch. "He may need a race, but he's trained well and this is the right time for us to bring him back," said trainer Patrick Biancone, who won this race two years ago with Mayakovsky. Pomeroy arrived from California without incident Wednesday, although he will need to get used to the colder and wetter conditions. "He ran three times in the slop last year and ran well in each race," Biancone said. "I'd rather have a dry track to bring him back on, but I don't think a wet track would be a problem for him."
Overbrook Farm's Quick Action should ensure a quick pace although he is probably not as fast as Deputy Storm. The Carson City colt won the Fred "Cappy" Capossela going six furlongs but faltered after vying for the lead in the Whirlaway, his only start beyond six furlongs.
War's Prospect and Rockhewn, the one-two finishers in a second-level allowance here February 22nd, will step up into stakes company.
|1||Deputy Storm||Todd Pletcher||Jorge Chavez||116|
|2||Eddington||Mark Hennig||Edgar Prado||116|
|3||War's Prospect||Bill Anderson||Daniel Santana||116|
|4||Pomeroy||Patrick Biancone||Mike Smith||116|
|5||Saratoga County||George Weaver||Javier Castellano||116|
|6||Redskin Warrior||Jennifer Pedersen||Richard Migliore||120|
|7||Rockhewn||Robert Reid Jr.||Victor Molina||116|
|8||Quick Action||D. Wayne Lukas||Shaun Bridgmohan||120|
From a NYRA press release.
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